Copyright

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
copyright, europe



Library Group And Others Issue Declaration For Consumer Friendly Copyright In Europe

from the wouldn't-that-be-something dept

Stuart Hamilton from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) alerted us to the news that his organization, along with "a broad based coalition of European groups, representing consumers, creators, libraries, civil society and technology companies" have put together a declaration in the EU Parliament for Copyright for Creativity -- with the goal being to reform copyright law to bring it back to its original purpose, while updating it for the internet age so that it "fosters digital creativity, innovation, education, and access to cultural works."

Now, wouldn't that be nice?

The argument that they're making is that if the EU implemented such a massive change to copyright law, that actually did focus on such things, it would give Europe a huge competitive advantage. The key goal is to establish important "well-crafted exceptions" to copyright law (such as fair use) that have been shown, time and time again, to encourage greater creativity, innovation and education.

You can see the full declaration, if you'd like. It's been signed by a bunch of groups, including the EFF and the CCIA, who has really been leading the charge recently to get people to understand the importance of exceptions to copyright law in actually driving creativity and economic growth.

Apparently, some Parliament Members already support the declaration, leading to the hope that it will be used "as a basis for an urgent debate on copyright." Again, this would be wonderful if it happens, but given how thoroughly the entertainment industry has dominated pretty much all policy discussions when it comes to copyright, I'm a bit skeptical that this will get very far. Still, it would be great if it really did get a real discussion on copyright issues, that was evidence-based rather than faith-based, going in European policy circles.

As it stands right now, the declaration is a bit vague. It seems like it would help to have some more specifics included as well. And, on top of that, I'm still not convinced that harmonization of copyright systems across multiple countries really is ideal at this point -- even though that's a key element of the declaration. Part of the problem we have with copyright laws today is that there is so little evidence on the actual impact of stronger or weaker copyright laws. It's an area that needs more widespread experimentation with very different models (or no copyright at all) to see what really happens so that there is real evidence. Harmonizing a single system takes away some element of that ability to experiment and to compare different systems to see what really works.

That said, these are minor quibbles for a project whose overall goal does seem like a good thing -- and greatly needed in an era where any sort of changes to copyright law seem to only be driven by the entertainment industry, with a focus on driving the purpose further and further away from its original intentions, and making it more and more about propping up a legacy industry's business model.

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  1. icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), 9 May 2010 @ 9:18am

    Hard to push through

    I was suggesting that if you wanted changes in copyright laws, it would be best to start with some specific uses that can be well-defined.

    My guess is that if you actually started out with, "Once you post it, say it, or write it down, you lose control over it," you'd find it very hard to get popular support, even among average people. It would be very easy to spin it this way: "Big companies and the government will come and take your ideas and make money from them and give you nothing." I think the pro-copyright folks could generate a degree of paranoia in people similar to what has been done with any suggested changes in health care.

    I'm just being pragmatic. Saying that once anyone else hears it or sees it, what you have said or created enters into public domain will not likely win you anti-copyright supporters, even if you think it's better for society as a whole.

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